The Sufi Interpretation of Joseph Story: The Path of the Heart from Being to Annihilation and Then to Enduring

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Mohamed Haj Yousef, Jan 22, 2013 - Philosophy - 410 pages
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This book is about the Sufi Interpretation of Joseph Story in the Quran. The interpretation theme is focused on the Path of the Heart from Being to Annihilation and then to Enduring. Quran is the ultimate miracle of Islam, because of it is exquisite meanings and cognizance, and because of the wisdom and guidance and healing for the believers. One aspect of this supremacy of the Quran is its multi-layer systems of interpretation; on the outward form the meanings of most verses are direct and easily understood by the public, yet with little thoughtful contemplation one could dig for many fascinating meanings which were not readily understood from the first reading. But there are even deeper layers of interpretations which are only accessible to the mystics. It has been reported that the Prophet Muhammad, peace be upon him, said that the Quran has an outward form and an inner form, and its inner form has yet an inner form, and so on to seven inner levels. The fundamental key to get to understand these inner levels of interpretation is based on the mystic Sufi view that everything in the cosmos is reflected in the human, and vice versa; thus we can say that the cosmos is a macro-human and the human is a micro-cosmos. Thus Ibn Arabi explains that Allah created the world in the image of the Human Being and the Human Being is on the Image of God. Hence the manifest world, like the Perfect Human Being, is according to the Image of the Real Himself although without the Perfect Human Being it could not participate in this perfection. But there are also other levels of correspondences, for example between the various prophets and saints or evils and enemies of God on the one hand and the human intellectual faculties on the other hand. In this regard, the famous story of the prophet Joseph and his father Jacob, and his other brothers, in Chapter 12 in the Quran, is a good example of how the Sufis apply their metaphysical views on the interpretation of Quran. According to this account, Joseph corresponds to the Heart who wants to guide the Body or the Human to salvation, and thus he is favored by his father Jacob, the Reason, who turns always to the Heart and to the Rational Force (the brother of Joseph) with love and care and gives them more attention than their brethren (the five phenomenal senses: Hearing, Sight, Smell, Taste and Touch, and the five inward senses: Imagination, Rational, Illusion, Remembrance and Memory, in addition to Anger and Lust) who only care about themselves and run after their own fantasies. To this end, these twelve forces - except the force of Memory, which does not envy the Heart - see that the Heart has accounted for all the attention of Reason and took their chances, so they planned to get rid of their brother. And so the story develops in the same way as it happened in real life with prophet Joseph and his father and brothers, ... until he meets the Soul (Zuleika) who fancies him and loves him passionately, but being on the wrong faith she wanted only to drag him to fulfill her earthly desires. But God's care and mercy preceded to the Heart and He saved him from drowning in the sea of deadly desires, ... so he preferred to stay in seclusion ... where he stayed in the prison for some years. When he entered in solitude, entered with him two friends: the power of spiritual love and the fancy power of the Soul, ... The first later returned to his lord and the latter was stopped ... when the Soul was about to elevate into higher level of true faith and her natural love and desire will turn into spiritual love so she will follow the Heart in his path to God rather than attracting him to her fantasies... which will pave the way for the state annihilation in God, which is the perfection state of the Heart, ... thus he was inaugurated on the treasures of the earth... and so another phase of the story begins, the phase of enduring life that starts when the Heart is fully realized in his Lor

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About the author (2013)

Mohamed Haj Yousef, PhD, studied physics in Syria and at Cambridge and had an academic career teaching the subject, but has had a second career as a scholar of Ibn 'Arabi and has written several books including: Ibn 'Arabi: Time and Cosmology and Shams al-Magreb (in Arabic). In addition he runs a website about Ibn 'Arabi (, and teaches at United Arab Emirates University.

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